KEIGHLEY Cougars Chief Executive and co-owner Ryan O’Neill has issued the following statement in regard to yesterday’s Reimagining Rugby League announcement.

The following statement was first issued this morning in The Independent newspaper with Ryan now issuing in full to you, the supporters of Keighley Cougars.

I value the contribution IMG can bring to sport, they bring weight, talent, and value.

However, on what I’ve seen, I have reservations they fully understand Rugby League.

This sport is rooted in the north and in the communities, this is the Rugby League USP. These are the foundations to build on, be proud of, and embraced to organically expand.

Expand yes but expand with demand.

There is a huge opportunity to engage with people, to entertain people, to create a sport that is dynamic.

This doesn’t mean clubs that are exempt to the jeopardy of relegation, it means offering a competitive sport where losers can become winners, and winners can become losers.

Rugby League has failed over the last two decades because it has tried to manufacture a celebrity and glamour that is not authentic.

Expansion, favouritism, flexible rules for one, but not the other. This has to stop.

The IMG initial proposals to me seem to just be a continuance of the same mistakes. Preserving the clubs with the bigger names for vanity is not the answer.

Rugby League, and sport in general, should have a simple premise. You lose, you drop. You win, you rise.

Two up and two down in every league in every season.

No ifs and no buts. That’s sport.

By Joshua Chapman